To many, Brooks River is the Heart of Katmai National Park and Preserve. It is the home of many of Katmai’s famous brown bears, the gateway to the geologically significant Valley of 10,000 Smokes, and the spot for blue ribbon rainbow trout. What many visitors may not know is that this area is also a National Historic Landmark and an Archeological District consisting of 20 different prehistoric sites. People have made their homes along the Brooks River for at least 4,500 years, and many Alaska Native people with ties to the Katmai area consider the prehistoric Brooks River residents their ancestors. From 2002-2003, working with the Council of Katmai Descendants, NPS archeologists partially excavated one of these sites in an attempt to learn more before sections were lost to erosion. Some of the artifacts found were delicately incised pebbles. All of these local pebbles have intricate designs on them. While the designs are of a similar style, no two are exactly the same. While it is impossible to postulate what design elements such as arcs, clusters, lines, dots, triangles and tree like patterns might mean, archeologists have suggested they could represent facial features, or clothing and personal adornment. It is also possible these designs are not anthropomorphic at all, but rather part of a counting or tallying system, or represent mythical or magical creatures. Along the same lines, function of these pebbles is impossible to determine. They do not appear to be tools, so perhaps they were either a ceremonial function or game pieces. Hundreds of these artifacts have been recovered in Kodiak and in Aniakchak National Monument—while the designs in the Kodiak and Aniakchak pebbles have different elements, they are similar, suggesting a similar function. These similarities suggest a past connection between these groups of people.


  • Title: Incised Stone
  • Date Created: AD 1300 to 1640
  • Contributor: Katmai National Park
  • Park Website: Park Website
  • Other Related Links: Katmai Terrane Blog Post on Incised Pebbles
  • National Park Service Catalog Number: KATM 41753
  • Measurements: H 7.0, W 5.6, T 1.3 cm
  • Material: Sedimentary stone
  • Cultural Group or Period: Koniag Period

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